Don (Donald) Benson FInstTA, FCILT
Don was born on 10th February 1926 and on leaving school held a number of jobs in the London Docks and with the Railways operating into the Docks. On reaching the age for National Service, although having been an army cadet in his youth, he found himself not required for the military but was instead sent to Yorkshire to work in the coal mines as a miner as a Bevin Boy. In later years he was often heard to say “I wanted to join the Black Watch, not work in the dark”.
On returning to civilian life he was selected to join the educational team within the docks rising eventually to become its manager. On the closure of many of the docks he joined Thurrock Technical College as its senior lecturer on transport related subjects and over the years was responsible for the education of numerous senior managers within the Transport Industry. Under his guidance Thurrock became a major training centre for transport management with many pupils being sent from overseas and it is for that reason the Institute formed centres in Hong Kong, Nigeria and a number of other areas of the world.
He was a prolific author writing numerous books on Transport Management and World Trade. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects concerning the movement of goods both within the United Kingdom and overseas. He was also very versed in the political matters and was a notable expert on transport history, particularly from a political aspect.
Centre left in his political views he stood however as the Social Democratic Party (SDP) political candidate in the 1983 General Election (gaining almost 22% of the vote) and again in 1987 (gaining almost 17% of the vote).
Although being involved with both the Chartered Institute of Transport as it was then and IoTA his first love was always IoTA. It was to us that most of his pupils were steered and a number of them have held high office within IoTA, at least one other National Chairman and a President.
Don was a founding member of Essex Centre helping its separation from London Centre. He served in almost every capacity with Essex and readily took on national rolls. For many years he chaired the National Education Committee and became our National Chairman with a highly successful National Conference at Stansted.
Don, and his wife Joyce, were famous over the years for the Institute BBQ’s held at his house in Thurrock for members and friends. Always a colourful character he provided much knowledge and wisdom and will always be remembered with much love and affection for the start he provided with the careers of many of the senior managers within the transport industry today.
Don, having suffered during the last couple of years with Alzheimer’s passed away peacefully after a short illness on 28th May 2014. His funeral was attended by many senior, past and present members of IoTA.